Preston Grasshoppers vs Billingham

Date: 16 March 2024

Preston 26-22 Billingham

Preston Grasshoppers just managed to get over the line in a penalty-strewn match against Billingham.

Tries from Samuel Heron, Matt Kirby and Michael Walton were not enough for Billingham, who had to contend with the boot of Will Hunt.

10 minutes in, with their first visit to the 22, Billingham took three points, with Heron scoring a penalty.

Hoppers instantly replied however with one of their own, with Hunt getting his first kick of the day.

And 17 minutes in, Preston took the lead with a well worked try, the initial break from Hunt before two quick offloads reached the hands of Izaak Gosling who ran through to score under the posts.

Just under 10 minutes later, Billingham brought it level when they took full use of an advantage, with Heron bursting through and touching down.

With five minutes to go, Harvey May picked up a yellow, and the North East side used their extra man, with Kirby receiving the ball from the penalty before running through to put Billingham 17-10 up at half time.

The Grasshoppers came flying out of the blocks in the second half, with a try just two minutes in courtesy of captain Scott Richardson, who twisted his way over to bring the scores level.

Several attacks went back and forth, before Jack Lightowler won a penalty, which Hunt calmly slotted to put Hoppers back ahead.

The next try came from Billingham, when with 20 minutes to go, they had a penalty five metres out, with Walton bursting over, injuring himself in the process.

The lead was still only two points, and Hoppers took it back when Hunt kicked a penalty from within his own half.

They then consolidated their lead with another penalty five minutes from time.

Billingham had some late attacks, with several opportunities to score, but mistakes and the Hoppers defence dug in to confirm the narrow win for the Lancashire side.

Preston Grasshoppers head coach Alex Keay said he was pleased with his side’s performance and the fight they had shown.

“I think we’re going the right way,” said Keay.

“There’s currently a good vibe and good feel amongst the lads with how we’re trying to play.

“We’ve still got to get fitter to play our game, but I think there were some really positive signs and maturity in that performance today, and I’m massively pleased with how they dug in at the end.”

Report by Tom Kelly, pictures by Mike Craig

Billingham 16 Mar 2024

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